John Bravata, 45, and Antonio Bravata, 25, Brighton, Michigan, a businessman and his son, were found guilty by a federal jury of conspiracy and multiple counts of wire fraud.
The defendants were found guilty after an eight-week trial before U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman.
As part of the same prosecution, a guilty plea to wire fraud was entered by Richard J. Trabulsy, 32, Canton, Michigan, a former business partner of John Bravata.
The evidence at trial showed that from 2006 to 2009, John Bravata conspired with his son Antonio Bravata to defraud more than 500 investors of more than $50 million, money that largely represented the life savings of investors. In executing the scheme to defraud John and Antonio Bravata solicited money for their company BBC Equities by using false and fraudulent statements and promises. These false statements included promises of guaranteed safety of principal and high interest returns. Rather than investing the money in safe real estate transactions as promised, a large portion of the money was used by the defendants to support their lavish lifestyles.
Both John Bravata and Antonio Bravata furthered their scheme to defraud through free lunch seminars that targeted retirees. At these presentations, they not only made false promises of a safe investment, but they falsely claimed that they did not get paid unless the company was profitable, that no fees or commissions would be charged or taken on investments, and that real estate was purchased with cash.
John Bravata was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud. Antonio Bravata was convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sentencing has been set for June 18, 2013. Bond was continued as to defendant Antonio Bravata. John Bravata‘s detention was continued.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Frances Carlson and Karen Reynolds, as well as Special Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Polish. SAUSA Polish was detailed to this case from the Chicago Region of the Securites and Exchange Commission. The case was investigated by the FBI and the SEC.
United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced the conviction.
U.S. Attorney McQuade was joined in the announcement by Robert D. Foley, III, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Merri Jo Gillette, Regional Director of the Chicago Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“White-collar criminals may use sophisticated methods, but their crime is nothing more than stealing other people’s money,” McQuade said. “These defendants targeted and preyed upon victims and stole their life savings. Many of these victims are seniors who lack the resources or the time to recoup the loss.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Foley stated, “These individuals engaged in an investment scheme that stole millions of dollars from hundreds of investors. The FBI is committed to stopping such predatory acts and holding criminals responsible.”